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History and Heritage

Reflections and Leis:

Pearl Harbor 75 years later

A small white boat gently glides across the almost still waters of Pearl Harbor towards a white swooped rectangle-shaped building that appears to almost hover over the water, the USS Arizona Memorial.

This past week dozens of veterans - Pearl Harbor survivors - have arrived in Honolulu to pay tribute and remember the events that occurred 75 years ago today. Men exited honor flights, some in wheelchairs, some walking, some in Hawaiian style shirts and some wearing the covers of their local VFW marking them as a United States military veteran, but all with the same look, a look that has seen the horrors of war but strong nonetheless.

The only sounds that can be heard as the white boat makes its way to a memorial that entombed 1177 Sailors that fateful Dec. 7th day, is the slight wind, the small diesel engine and the occasional seagull cry. A Sailor at the helm, in his Navy Service Uniform, his ribbons perfectly aligned, crows and warfare pin shine bright in the sunlight. Petty Officer 1st Class Wren Pettett pilots the boat and docks perfectly with practiced precision.

"Driving every day, back and forth to the memorial, is an honor every single day," said Pettett. "To do it on the 75th is the greatest honor that I've had in the Navy."

As you exit the boat and step onto the memorial, things are eerie quiet. The occasional smell of oil wafts on the sea breeze. Looking over the side a small rainbow slick of oil can be seen, a reminder of the great cost of life those 75 years ago.

"Being able to take them there and let them see it with their family," Pettett said his voice full of quiet gratitude. "Being able to see the sacrifices that all the Sailors that were on board the Arizona and through the whole base, through the whole island, it makes me happy that I'm alive and able to serve every single day."

Take this day to pause and remember. Remember those who sacrificed so much for this country. Remember the Sailors who fought that day, not just for their life, but the lives of the men to their left and right, their shipmates.